In memory of my grandfather Stefan Szmihelsky (village of Stinka, Buchach Region, Ukraine).
He, his wife and their three young daughters were sent to Siberia for a 10 year sentence of hard labour in the coal mines in 1944, for my father’s involvement in Ukrainian patriotism.
My grandfather was very tall (almost 7’) and thin and suffered terrible lung problems from the coal dust over the 10 years. When he was too ill and weak to mine the daily quota of coal in order to receive food for this family, then my grandmother, Kalyna, took his place in the mines to get the daily food rations. After their sentence was completed, they were allowed to return home in 1954, only to find another family had taken up residence in their straw-hatched house. Quietly, other family members helped them to start life over again in their humble village, where more than one family 'did time' in Siberia.